Political Promise

The campaign begins, but will social networking really tip the balance of the race?

In Dan Owens on April 6, 2010 at 9:51 pm

And so it begins. After a short trip to Buckingham Palace this morning, Gordon Brown has announced the election date as May 6th 2010, launching the month long campaign that will be dominated by issues surrounding the economy, foreign affairs and finally, who is the most likable leader.

Fears of a hung parliament are gripping the economic heart of the country, with the financial markets praying for a conclusive outcome to the election, and a promise to tackle the ever increasing budget deficit; currently standing at almost 12% of GDP. The most recent polls highlight the volatile nature of the electorate with the Conservatives having between a 4 and 10 point lead; the Conservatives need a 6.9% majority to secure an outright win, something which hasn’t been achieved at a general election since 1950 (save for Labours landslide victory in 1997).

With what is shaping up to be the most contested election since 1992, David Cameron cried that “you don’t have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown” whilst the economy is recovering from the worst recession since World War II. Election fever is well underway with Facebook, Twitter and the Blogosphere expected to have an unprecedented impact on the result of the election. Whilst the traditional forms of media still carry considerable weight, the electorate are no longer susceptible to the charms of the spin doctors that were an integral part to the 1997 Labour victory. The importance of social networking platforms is epitomised by the 2008 US election where Senator Barack Obama, a once rank outsider, emerged victorious through his use of ‘new’ media platforms. He revolutionised campaign financing through the online donations system, where supporters across the world could donate as little as possible to support the campaign.

The Tories have taken note of Obamas success and currently dominate online with myconservatives.com, the BlueBlog, Cameron Direct and a large Facebook presence. However, as the polls have suggested in recent weeks, Labour’s online campaign is gaining momentum and it is now vital for all parties to step away from the computer and mobilise those grassroots movements that were so essential in Obamas campaign. Whilst the apathetic electorate of the 18-25’s have the greatest online presence, it is not the flashy campaign slogans and the cheap pot-shot posters that are going to motivate them to participate in the electoral process – it is the policies. Unless all the parties start to advocate policies that capture the minds of young voters, then these fancy campaigns will do nothing to increase voter participation; but will instead increase the number of users who partake in photo-editing, creating satirical mock-ups of official campaign posters.

Daniel Owens

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  1. Just discovered your blog. Look forward to your various takes on the election campaign. Good luck with it all to you all.

  2. Thank you very much, hope you enjoy the next four weeks as much as we do!

  3. discovered late, but i must tell you, it was a very brilliant initiative and i find it very informative.

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